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My Life Depends on You

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Recently, my schedule changed, so I had to change my weekly attendance to a different OA meeting. Sadly, the new meeting has been disappointing. The turnout is rarely more than five or six people. Sometimes, only two are there to get the meeting started, and several members show up late. This type of behavior in recovery is disturbing to me since my OA sponsors have always stressed showing up early, helping set up, and being available to speak with newcomers before the meeting starts. That said, I also know that it only takes two to make a meeting, so I have continued trudging, knowing that what I put into my program is what I will get out of it.

Last night, my feeling of being disturbed shifted to anger and fear. I showed up fifteen minutes early and found a woman wandering around, wondering where the OA meeting was. I told her she was in the right place and proceeded to speak with her as I set up the meeting. Thankfully, one other person showed up five minutes before the start time, so we had three to start the meeting. Four more people arrived late, so the final meeting count was seven. My perception, though, was through the eyes of that newcomer: 1) No one was there when she arrived. 2) It was a rushed start. 3) People strolled in late (and not very quietly).

Last night, I was embarrassed for OA, but all day today, I have sat in fear for my own recovery.

I know for sure I cannot work this program alone, nor can I alone change my unhealthy behaviors. I never would have done service if my sponsor hadn’t told me to do so. I never would have recognized that my whispering to others during meetings was disruptive if a long timer hadn’t pointed it out. I never would have known I was breaking a Tradition by speaking about a celebrity who is in recovery if another member hadn’t taken me aside after the meeting and told me. So, I guess my question is . . . do the people at this meeting have sponsors? When someone breaks a Tradition, are there more seasoned members who are willing to take them aside and tell them? Or are we all just like that newcomer, wandering around wondering where OA is?

A part of me thought it better not to write about this for fear of offending people or sounding like a judgmental person. That part of me was overruled by the part that knows if OA dies, I die. Furthermore, if OA turns into a willy-nilly, do-whatever-you-want diet club, I also die. My life depends on people who are willing to tell me the truth about myself, and those are the people who are living in abstinence and working the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions every day. Those are the people who care more about the lives of their sponsees than whether their sponsees like them. Those are the people I’d like to see at every meeting. I know those people are out there, but where?

I get it. We all have busy lives. Sometimes, we will be late to a meeting and that cannot be avoided. There will be times when meetings may only have a few members in attendance. But when the busyness, the lateness, and the sparsely attended meetings become a regular thing, what is that saying? One friend often says, “People speak with their feet. Watch what they do, and you will know how important their program is to them.” From what I have seen lately, I’m scared. I’m scared because my favorite OA slogan has always been “Together we can.”

For today, I’m going to keep showing up early for this meeting, giving service, and sharing as best as I can. It is the only meeting that I can guarantee will fit in my weekly schedule, so I know I need to be there for my recovery. I will go to the group’s next business meeting and share my concerns. Above all, I am going to stay in contact with my sponsor and my Higher Power to ask for guidance. After that, I know I need to leave the results to HP! Thankfully, because of what OA and living the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions has taught me, I know for certain that the only person I can change is myself.

I hope to see you at a meeting soon! Together we can!

— Jessica M.

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